Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2012


A while ago, A Woman Keen On Sensible Footwear (a.k.a. Wellywoman) commented on one of my recent posts that she wasn’t aware that forsythias would root in water.

Well, the proof’s in the rooting, as they say:

Granted, it does take some time, which is why this lovely vase is grimed over with lime scale, but it’s a perfectly easy way to propagate this bush, either to create more of it or to create new undergrowth if it is beginning to get too top-heavy and tumble over.

I generally find that most branches will root in water, given enough time, and the trick with the forsythia is just to let it bloom away, drop its flowers and then wait for the leaves to appear. Once you have leaves on your branches, the roots will be there in very little time, with no need for rooting hormones, special treatment or anything.

In the vase above – as in all my vases of forsythia – I have mixed the forsythia branches with red dogwood. The red stems create a nice counterpoint to the brash yellow flowers, and once the flowers are gone the dogwood – in this case a rather pleasantly variegated cultivar (ooh, look at me throwing proper gardening words about; “variegated”, “cultivar”!!!) – will start showing leaves sooner than the forsythia. And of course the dogwood have as lovely flowers, even if less attention-seeking, as the forsythia. And the dogwood, too, roots before long.

Considering that I’m trying to replace an ugly wooden fence with a hedgerow of living plants, I think this sort of propagation is about as easy a solution as you can get! I could, of course, also just start pinning down overhanging branches, leaving them for a year and then cutting them loose and transplant them, but this is so much quicker and also adds to my connection to the garden. I have it right here with me in the apartment!

The pot at the back of the picture above is the sedum flowers I brought in as a bouquet last autumn and decided to keep, since they started rooting.

So far it seems that my success with cuttings is a one-all; I have had no success with rose cuttings, in spite of taking numerous the year before last, but I’ve had great success with flowers that were just picked to be pretty in the apartment and then decided they wanted to live!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Feeling Lazy


It seems like I haven’t done a thing all weekend. Well, of course not QUITE, but you know how one can get in a self-deprecating mood from time to time. When I look at that picture it really doesn’t seem like much of a result.

Still, the border IS larger than it appears in the picture, and though I didn’t get around to digging in the compost and create a plantable area, at least I can be glad I changed my plan and enlarged the area of the border. I suspect it might actually need to be even bigger, but I just won’t have time for that next weekend and I also think it’s probably important that I finish it in this size, dig in the compost and gain a sense of achievement from it. Then I can always do a second spurt of digging in April.

I’ve discovered that the narrow border in front of the covered terrace actually wraps around it, so about 4 inches below the lawn there is an edging of concrete paving stones. It makes it more fiddly to dig near the wall, but on the other hand they make a nice marker for how far in towards the terrace I want to dig deep; the last thing I’d want would be to unsettle the paving of the terrace, and this old edging gives me a nice guideline.

(The clematis is planted just inside the edging, by sheer luck, and it will be preserved. I decided to sacrifice a perennial sweet pea, though, as it was just impossible to disentangle it from the weedy grass around it. Also, it wasn’t very scented, so I will sow some annual sweet peas instead with a headier scent.)

Most of the turf was “recycled” and used to beef up the embankment towards the stream at the back. (And also, on a more cosmetic level, covering up the piles of old twigs and branches that were lying there as well as some of the lumps of pure clay that were dug up when we had the drainage installed. I will fill in the gaps between the turf “blocks”, and that should make it look a bit tidier. )

This one is a bit of a cheat, since I bought this on Thursday. A blue anemone that was just too pretty to resist. I planted it out in the hedgerow, which should pretty much replicate the natural environment it’s suited for; light in spring, then heavy shade once the leaves appear on the trees.

This one looks rather autumnal, yet gloriously so, I think. It’s a mahogany that had made it’s way out into the forest, and as it is not a native plant here I pulled it up and stuck it in a plastic container in the Courtyard. If you look carefully at the centre of the leaves you can see the yellow flower buds have made an appearance, and I think they will look spectacular against the dark foliage.

In time it might end up as a feature plant in the shady (and also not created yet) Fern Patch – or perhaps as undergrowth under the trees towards the road.

Right in the centre of this picture there is a small, red tip making its way out of the soil… The peonies are shooting, and it will be exciting to see if we get any flowers this year. (Though odds are we will have to wait another year, yet you never know…)

And that’s it for now. I’m going up there again Friday evening and hope to finish the Sunny Border in some form before I have to head back to town Saturday night for a birthday party.

(And typing up this entry made me feel like – perhaps – I have managed to get SOME work done over the weekend.)

Read Full Post »

Oops…


Isn’t it always the way it goes; you start a project and suddenly you can just see that your scope is too narrow.

I’m afraid I might have to admit that I’ve under-dimensioned the lay-out of the new Sunny Border; now that I’ve dug half of the planned area free of turf it seems quite clear that this won’t make the sort of impact I want it to, regardless of how lush and colourful the plants decide to grow.

I might have to double the radius of the semicircle, and this will of course quadruple the area that needs to be cleared. (A = π x r2 for a circle if I remember correctly – when I was a kid we used to always ask our maths teacher “but what will we ever USE this for?”, and I guess he should have just told me that when I started a garden it would be quite handy to know basic geometry… I also use the Pythagorean number sets quite often – a triangle with the lengths 5-4-3 will give you a straight angle since a2=b2+c2.)

Still, I’m making headway, and my back is actually less sore now than it was after I’d dug out the first square meter. My body is getting accustomed to the work, it seems.

I still need to work out how I’m going to dig out the turf around the young clematis. I suspect I might resort to just scraping off the grass and the top roots, lay down a thick layer of cardboard around the plant and then mulch that over with compost so it doesn’t show. It won’t remove all the roots but it should at least limit the amount of grass that manages to get through to the surface.

Plastic would probably be more efficient, but I think I’ve made enough concessions by deciding on a vertical 8-inch corrugated plastic barrier between the border and the lawn. The cardboard will decompose naturally and actually add something positive to the soil, whereas a sheet of plastic around the clematis would just be an atrocity that will disintegrate but not decompose, leaving me with small bits of plastic in the soil for years to come. (At least the plastic barrier towards the lawn has an expected durability of 5 years, possibly more, given that it will be completely covered on both sides, and when it does start to disintegrate the border should be established enough that I can maintain the edge by cutting it with a spade every spring.)

Anyway, enough of a break; back to the garden – and the heavy work – I go!

(EDIT: And now it started raining – just a slight drizzle, but enough to turn the soil into mud if I walk around digging. Armchair gardening it is for now!)

 

Read Full Post »


Today I received a call that my husband’s compost – his birthday present from his mother – was delivered this morning, and of course this means I have a full weekend planned.

I have only gotten as far as outlining the Sunny Border – a project I’ve imagined ever since we took over custodianship of this garden – so I need to dig away the turf and fluff up the soil beneath, mixing in a good measure of compost.

The other day I bought something I don’t particularly like; a long piece of 8″ deep corrugated plastic to serve as a boundary between the Sunny Border and the lawn, simply so the grass won’t invade the new border the same way it has invaded the Ambitious Border. I might invest in more of this once I’ve weeded out all the grass in the Ambitious Border.

It’s not pretty, for sure, but since it will be fully buried in the ground I guess I can live with it. I would have preferred a more natural material, but buying the wood to make something similar would a) be too expensive and b) probably be worse for the environment in general, since that wood would have to be cut, transported etc. to get to the garden.

 

In other news the dogwood and forsythia branches that I forced in the apartment now have green leaves. The forsythia might have lost its yellow splendour, but the dogwood is getting ready to show off a few bunches of tiny white flowers. And both the dogwood and the forsythia are beginning to show signs of roots!!! NEW PLANTS!!!

If they survive long enough they will end up in the Hedgerow toward the road, screening our haven a bit more from the outside world. More blossoms in spring, more variegated leaves in summer, more red dogwood stems in winter.

 

I picked some sedum stems last autumn as part of a bouquet of flowers for the apartment, and as the rest of the flowers faded the sedums started creating roots in the vase. I threw the rest of the flowers away, cut down the sedums to a few inches, and all through the winter they’ve stayed alive in a glass of water on the kitchen table. Yesterday morning I decided that spring had arrived and that perhaps in a month there might be room in the garden for the remainder of a bunch of flowers, picked for their beauty and retained so that beauty might regenerate. So I potted up the small stems with their fragile roots and tiny leaves.

It was propagation by accident, but I kept them alive. I watered them, nursed them and loved them – willed them – alive. It’s the greatest feat of magic imaginable, isn’t it?

Read Full Post »


It is Spring. All is pruned back.
We’re cutting down the shrubberies and the budgets.
Gone is the gluttony of yore.
We exercise until we look like skeletons.
I age five years
each time I dig into my wallet
but when the spring sun shines
I become young!

(Det er forår. Alting klippes ned.
Der beskæres i buskadser og budgetter.
Slut med fordums fede ødselhed.
Vi begynder at træne til skeletter.
Jeg blir fem år ældre
ved hvert indgreb i min pung,
men når forårssolen skinner,
blir jeg ung!)

The above is the first verse of a song written by the Danish poet Benny Andersen. As a child I never quite understood it, because surely Spring should be about growth, and cutting back would be in autumn!

But as we all know it isn’t. There are last years spent perennials, of course, and the roses and the fruit trees. And later in the spring the forsythia and other spring-flowering shrubs.

The night frost has returned, and it looks like it will continue on and off for at least a fortnight, so my spring header on the blog mainly celebrates the calendar spring; it’s very difficult to see in the garden, except for the snowdrops and the winter aconites, but then they’re only harbingers of Spring, not Spring itself!

I also took a series of “before” shots of my pruning targets for this weekend, and I will upload them together with “after” shots in a later blog entry. Please do not mock me; I may be inexperienced at pruning, but any pruning is better than no pruning, right?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts